Athens, October 1, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Based on the EU research on the leadership and autonomy of schools, which began three years ago and ended last August, Greece has the most centralized educational system in the EU.
According to the survey, which in Greece was held by the Group for Educational Research and Evaluation of the Foundation for Research and Technology in collaboration with the Educational Policy Institute, in European Union countries’ education systems there is a relatively high autonomy of schools in matters of teaching methods, the selection of the textbooks or their student’s choice with the “notable exception of Greece, where these issues are determined by the educational authorities”.
Greece, Cyprus and Malta are the only EU countries where textbooks are determined by the education authorities, while in France this is the case only for the textbooks of choice courses. Greece, Cyprus and France are also the exception to the rule that wants the schools to choose teachers who will cover the gaps in their personnel, and to have the last word on the issue of layoffs and the choice of their principal.
Research suggests that in general terms the educational systems in Europe are divided into different levels, based on the autonomy of schools. On the side of the most centralized systems one finds Greece and Luxembourg. On the other hand, greater autonomy recorded in England, Holland, Estonia, Scotland, Belgium, Finland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. Followed by Denmark, Sweden, Slovenia and Poland, however, where the analytical curriculum and teaching hours are decided centrally. Also centrally are also taken (or self-administration) the decisions on the issues of the economic program and resource allocation in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Ireland.
He however notes in AMNA the head of the research group in Greece and associate professor at Panteion University Andreas Kollias, there is no ‘best practice’ that can be followed for the best performance of an educational system.
“In Sweden, for example, the degree of school autonomy begins to decrease. There can be no general rules, since we are talking about different societies with different traditions”, Kollias stresses. In this regard, the head of research gives another example. “England has one of the most autonomous education systems. The British, however, view as revolutionary some methods of distributed leadership adopted in Greece in the 1980s, such as the fifteen-member councils of students in schools and the involvement of students in the elections for the rectory”.
The European paradoxes of education
By analogy, the “paradoxes” seen in practice in the organization of education is not only a Greek phenomenon. Thus, in Sweden the school head does not necessary have to be a teacher – “A prison warden or a ship captain is eligible to apply”, Kollias says characteristically. In England, on the other hand, the position of principal became too expensive for the workers themselves. This is because in the 1990s the Labour government introduced the paid voluntary participation in training programmes for prospective principals. But when the Conservatives came to power, the participation in the programmes became mandatory. The result was that teachers refrained from applying for the principal’s post and so the measure was repealed.